Wednesday, January 27, 2010
News Talk Online January 27, 2010: The State Of The Union & What's At Stake
Obama poses with Cabinet members
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Paltalk News Network
When President Obama and all but one member of his Cabinet enter the Capitol tonight and he delivers his State of the Union address - more than the future course of the nation will be on the line. The composition of the Congress he will be addressing is at stake.
What the president outlines - and what he accomplishes - or fails to accomplish - in the months leading to the mid-term elections - could very well determine their outcome. And ever since what's being called the Massachusetts Massacre - the Democrat's loss of that long-held U.S. Senate seat to Republican Scott Brown - Republican candidates for Congress have been salivating. Heralding the turning over of a seat occupied by the late Ted Kennedy to their party as a bellwether of voter attitudes nationally.
Obama is expected to concentrate on the federal budget and jobs. He will try to redefine his presidency and capture the hope, imagination and support of the nation again. But this campaign may very well be more difficult to accomplish than the one he successfully waged when he ran for office.
The reason: when he ran for president he only had to run against Republican Sen. John McCain. Today, he's running against his own record.
He promised transparency in government - and specifically vowed to keep the medical reform debate in public view. But his pledges that every step of that debate would be aired on C-SPAN never materialized. After the House and Senate versions were pushed through, reconciliation began - but behind closed doors.
He also promised that his stimulus program would create shovel-ready jobs. While there have been some projects that have started, the money for others that have been approved is still in the pipeline. People who are suffering from a lack of jobs and a credit card and mortgage crunch are getting frustrated.
This translates into a credibility problem for the president. Something he needs to overcome tonight.
The president will - again - outline a plan to create jobs - and will likely focus on those successful stimulus initiatives. But for those who are still standing in line at the unemployment offices across this nation - and worse - for those for whom benefits have run out - his words may not be all that inspiring.
He is also expected to announce a freeze in domestic government spending in 2011. A notable exception will be in the area of education. He will be proposing an increase in spending there. This is an interesting concept - coming from a president who - during the debates - rejected the same exact proposal then proffered by McCain. But it puts the Republicans in a box as well. If they oppose it, then they will have broken from the very platform they supported when McCain was running for president.
Of course, after his final words, traditionally, "may God bless the United States of America" - the real rhetorical game begins. As Democratic leaders start spinning. And as the Republicans offer their response.
You'll be able to see both the president's State of the Union and the Republican response on the Paltalk News Network starting at 9 PM New York time tonight. Then you'll have opportunity to offer your analysis of it all.
I hope to see you then!
White House photo: Chuck Kennedy